BP buys Google, Yahoo search words to keep people away from real news on Gulf oil spill disaster

BP spokesman Toby Odone confirmed to ABC News that the oil giant had in fact bought internet search terms. So now when someone searches the words ‘oil spill’,  on the internet, the top link will re-direct  them to BP’s official company website.

Yet another reason to use Bing. Do no evil, my ass. The article didn’t mention Bing, but I tried it and, in the US at least, all three search engines bring up BP’s link first for “oil spill”.

Google admits Microsoft’s Bing was right [U]

The search giant is adding a new left-handed navigation panel to most results pages, adding some visual clutter at the expense of offering users tools to help focus their query.

Good for Google, though it was obvious search ceased to be a mere numbers game years ago. Bing understood this, and helped you deal with thousands (or millions) of hits. Google’s late to the game, and I’m not switching from Bing as my default, but it’s good to see.

UPDATE: I should make it clear the biggest reason I’m glad to see this is because of Google’s acknowledgement that simply providing a list of hits is no longer enough. Microsoft was right, and now both sides can compete. Google may have upped the ante with today’s changes (e.g., the smart date ranges), and that’s good. Microsoft will need to respond.

Nothing To Do With Bing: Microsoft Usually Praises What They Copy

Apple’s done a very nice job that allows people to monetize and commercialize their intellectual property,

Steve Ballmer’s remarks about the App Store are taken by some as a sign that a rumored Apple switch to Bing as the default search engine may be getting closer to a reality.

I’m not buying it.

There’s little for Apple to gain by making this move, and, in terms of perception, a lot to lose. I suspect that Bing, and perhaps others, will be made available as choices, but I don’t see Apple making the switch from Google as the default.

As for the remarks, Microsoft has repeatedly praised Apple in the past for any strategies they begin to copy (see iPod and, more recently, iPhone).

By the way, if Apple did switch to Bing it wouldn’t bother me; Google is not the default search engine on any of my browsers anyway.

Bing Is One Month Old. How’s It Doing?

According to Microsoft, Bing has done well in its first month:

We saw 8 percent growth in unique users to Bing.com in June, which is an important indicator that you are trying Bing and the word is spreading.

I’m sure that, coming from Microsoft, some of this is hyperbole, but probably no more so than other companies “exaggerate”.

In my view, even if the exact figure may be disputed, I am not surprised that Bing has likely done well so far. I rather like it.

In fact, I’ve set it as my default search in Internet Explorer (though I hardly use IE) and  Firefox. Unfortunately, I can’t set it as my default in Safari, because Apple seems to think there are only two search engines: Google and Yahoo. Come on, Apple, let’s open that up a bit, OK?

Microsoft Doesn’t Need Yahoo Search, But Wouldn’t Mind Yahoo Talent

Interesting story from Mary Jo Foley on Microsoft picking up more Yahoo! executive talent. It’s interesting because of this comment:

I’ve seen a few industry watchers refer to these moves as Microsoft “poaching” Yahoo’s talent. But I wonder whether this is a case of Microsoft poaching or Yahoos jumping ship (or maybe a little bit of both)

I think she has a point; it’s almost certainly a little of both.

One thing is for sure, and I alluded to this in my review of Bing, I don’t think Microsoft needs to mess with caring (or even pretending to care) about Yahoo’s search business so much. Bing is a nice service, and just may pick up Yahoo’s business without even the hint of a buyout.

Heck, Bing even got Google to sit up and take notice.

Google Reacting to Bing?

In my review of Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, I concluded with this:

I think Bing is an impressive offering, and have already bookmarked it for frequent use. I also think Google should get working on a sidebar — or something similar — of their own.

It appears Google has indeed taken notice, and possible changes may result:

It might not be a Google-killer (yet), but Microsoft’s new search engine, Bing, is certainly raising hackles at the Googleplex. The New York Post reports that Google co-founder Sergey Brin is personally leading a team inside the company to analyze Bing’s search engine and make changes to Google’s search results as necessary.

This is good news any way you look at it. Google certainly has the savvy to rollout competitive changes fairly quickly, though as the article explains:

Google’s entire business plan revolves around text ads placed around search results… If Google has to put in “decision” links to compete with Bing, it will: 1) mess up Google’s page layout; and 2) potentially mess up the company’s massive search ad business…

Was it Microsoft’s intent to possibly disrupt Google’s chief business in this manner? I suspect they hadn’t thought of it that way, but rather simply as an example of providing a better experience than Google provides. In any case it’ll be interesting to see how the search giant reacts to its own turf being stepped on. That’s a problem it hasn’t faced in a while.

Microsoft Bing: There’s a Lot Here to Like

Microsoft’s new (well, newly labeled, anyway) search engine, Bing, went live last week. I’ve been playing with it a few days and find it to be a very respectable search offering. This thing won’t be toppling Google anytime soon, but there are things about it worth noting that should push Google to begin improving their own offering.

Comparison – Results

There’s a great web site that runs Bing and Google side by side. It’s called Bingle, and it makes for quick results comparisons between the two. You enter the search term once, and it opens a split panel screen with both engines available for scrolling:

Bingle_sd860

I’ve found Google to have more overall results, but it includes more “garbage” than Bing in general. For example, see above that the very first link is for the Canon SD870. That’s not even the model I was searching for, yet Google lists it first.

Google also makes no attempt to categorize results for you; it’s just a (seemingly) never-ending list of links. By contrast, Bing’s sidebar on the left can come in handy. For example, it lists the sd870 as a “related search”.

Bing can take this sidebar approach to very helpful levels. For example, see the searches below for “Prius”:

Bing_Google_Prius

Bing’s sidebar lists quick links for finding Problems, Reviews, Dealers, Videos, etc. Further, the scrolling list of results is categorized in the same manner as the links. You’ll get a few of one category, then a few for the next, and so on. The idea being that most people find what they want in the first few links anyway. Compared to Bing’s presentation of results, Google’s Lord of the Flies approach is ungainly by comparison.

Further, Bing provides a nice popup that tells you more about the site when you hover over the left edge of the link. You get details without having to load it, which should cut down on “bad” links. Here’s the popup when hovering over the Prius Edmonds link:

Bing_URL_Popup

Some will argue that Google still “wins” the search because it returned 17.5M results to Bing’s 2M, but I’m not buying it. This can’t be a simple numbers game when the numbers get this high. You can’t possibly go through so many links, especially since Google doesn’t even attempt to break them down. At some point one has to question whether 2M results with convenient subsets of the data and site popups is better than 17.5M you’re essentially left to sift through on your own. The more you get used to it, the more you’ll want the former.

Comparison – Image Search

I also like the way Bing presents images better than Google:

Bingle Image 1

Note that the sidebar gives you more choices of image options than Google’s top options. Also note that the thumbnails can be one of three sizes (shown is the smallest) to see more at a time.

I also like the fact that the images are presented cleanly, with no distracting text, etc. which I don’t need for an initial review of the images. However, once I see an image I like, I need only hover the cursor over it and up pops the relevant information:

Bingle Image 2

Further, if I want the display to be more Google-like, there is a forth image size option that does so, shown here:

Bingle Image 3

Finally, Bing does not have you go back and forth through pages as Google does. Rather, you simply scroll through them, and it ads more as you scroll down. I like this a lot.

Conclusion

Sure, Bing has a way to go to beat Google — if only in the mindset of those who don’t think Google could be improved upon. While the results are good for restaurants, consumer goods, etc., they seem a little spartan for less consumer-related stuff. Then again, as a “decision-engine” it was wise to start more with consumer goods anyway. However, Yahoo! might want to be concerned. With this under their belt, Microsoft has less reason to talk to Yahoo! now.

I think Bing is an impressive offering, and have already bookmarked it for frequent use. I also think Google should get working on a sidebar — or something similar — of their own.